The hyperlocal news platform Patch has been put through the wringer. In the 12 years since its launch, Patch has been bought and sold multiple times. Each purchase led to new editorial strategies and plans for helping the network become sustainable and profitable. Now, more than five years after Patch was spun off by AOL and sold to Hale Global, it looks like the hyperlocal news network has finally found a monetization strategy that works.
Over the course of the past year, Patch has dialed back its digital advertising programs and put more emphasis on transactional payments. The majority of those transactional payments are now tied to the network’s hyperlocal calendars.
Each of Patch’s hyperlocal news websites features its own events calendar where visitors can find information about events happening in their local communities. Individual readers can post events on their own local calendars for free, but they need to pay to have their listings posted on other towns’ calendars. Patch charges $1 per day, per town to place listings on its hyperlocal calendars. Paid events listings are also featured at the top of the local news pages, spotlighted on article pages, broadcasted to Patch’s local Facebook feeds, and given preference in Patch’s daily newsletters.
In an interview with Axios, Patch CEO Warren St. John said revenue from selling access to hyperlocal calendars has grown 110% year-over-year. Patch is now generating in the “low single-digit millions” in revenue from its hyperlocal calendars. The average transaction size for a event listing is $48, because most people choose to promote events on multiple days and multiple town calendars.
One of the reasons why hyperlocal calendars have been lucrative for Patch is because the calendars require minimal management. Visitors can add events to the calendars on their own by entering a bit of text and uploading photos. Payments are handled through a self-serve system, and on-site transactions are being conducted with Stripe, PayPal, and Apple Pay.
Calendar payments are Patch’s first foray into local transactions. With these early successes, though, the hyperlocal network is now looking into other local transactions to monetize. (To learn more about how to paid listings actually work, click here.)
Hyperlocal Calendars — The Big Picture
For hyperlocal news publishers, launching an online calendar can be a game changer. Not only do local events calendars fill a void in the community, but they are highly profitable. Local businesses will pay a premium to post information about their events.
Publishers can squeeze even more revenue from their hyperlocal calendars when they sell add-on services, like cross-promoting premium event listings on their social media channels or in their email newsletters.
For the most part, transactions that involve selling listings on hyperlocal calendars can be entirely managed through self-serve portals. That means publishers don’t need to hire employees to manage calendar sales in the same way they would with digital display advertising.
Generating revenue by selling event listings on hyperlocal calendars also works because it doesn’t rely on payments from individual readers. While some publishers are finding success monetizing their websites through subscription and membership programs, those strategies rely on significant buy in from readers. Time and time again, local publishers have found that getting people to pay for local news is difficult. Getting people to pay for a local service, like posting events on a hyperlocal calendar, tends to be an easier sell.
In addition to charging to post local events, digital publishers like Patch are finding success by charging visitors to post classified ads and real estate listings on their websites.
To learn more about how to create a hyperlocal calendar for your own news website, or for support in setting up a connected self-serve payment portal, reach out to our team at Web Publisher PRO.